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VC Stephen Parker to retire in 2016

Claudia Doman


15 September 2015: Professor Stephen Parker AO, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Canberra, announced today that he will step down from his position on 1 July 2016.

"It has been a privilege to serve as the Vice-Chancellor of this young, dynamic, world-ranked institution. I will have been in office for over nine years by the time I finish and I am looking forward to spending time with my family and pursuing other interests.

"The tertiary education sector faces challenging times ahead but I am confident that the steady progress we have made at the University of Canberra in the past few years to become a competitive, values-based, outward-looking university will see it thrive in the future."

Professor Tom Calma AO, Chancellor of the University of Canberra and chair of the governing body, praised Professor Parker's visionary guidance and leadership to significantly transform the University into a world-ranked institution and thanked him for his relentless drive to revitalise the campus for the benefit of students, staff and the Canberra community.

"Stephen Parker has made an outstanding contribution not only through his role to grow and develop the University of Canberra but to Australian tertiary education in general.

"Although his departure will be a great loss for the University, his legacy has set solid foundations for the University to undertake its next stage of growth and competitiveness and for that we will always be grateful."

Professor Parker is the fourth vice-chancellor of the University of Canberra. He took up the position on 1 March 2007 and has served two terms. 

During his tenure, he has turned an inherited $16 million deficit into a surplus of $5.87 million after adjusting for one-off items in 2014, the third year in a row of positive financial results.

This latest result allowed for the first payment of the Employee Bonus Scheme to eligible staff in July. This innovative, cooperative-style scheme, led by Professor Parker and announced last year, pledges to distribute a pool of money among staff each year if the University exceeds the target required to reach a five per cent annual surplus by 2018.

Under Professor Parker's leadership, the University of Canberra has flourished with record student numbers, research income and publications, as well as a widely-renovated campus.

Some of the new developments on campus include state-of-the-art buildings such as the International Microsimulation Centre and the INSPIRE Centre, the Health Hub, the Sporting Commons and new student accommodation, which has more than doubled the number of beds available since 2009.

In addition, construction of the University of Canberra Public Hospital, the first sub-acute rehabilitation hospital in the ACT, will commence in 2016.

He has laid the ground-work for a major plan of campus growth and improvement with the signing of agreements worth more than $1 billion, following the recent amendment to the University of Canberra Act 1989 and other legislation. The achievement of this ambitious plan will provide an independent stream of funding that will help safeguard the University's future.

Professor Parker was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day Honours 2014 for his distinguished service to tertiary education through administrative, academic and representational roles, and his leadership at the University of Canberra.

The Chancellor, Professor Calma, said an international search for a new Vice-Chancellor will begin shortly to ensure a smooth transition in leadership before the departure of Professor Parker by mid-2016.